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Full text of "Titian"

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MASTERPIECES 

IN COLOUR 



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MASTERPIECES 
IN COLOUR 

EDITED BY - - 
T. LEMAN HARE 



TITIAN 

»477 (?)-i576 



u Masterpieces in Colour " Series 



Artist. 
VELAZQUEZ. 
REYNOLDS. 
TURNER. 
ROMNEY. 

greuze. 

botticelli. 

rossetti. 

BELLINI. 

FRA ANGELICO. 

REMBRANDT. 

LEIGHTON. 

RAPHAEL. 

HQLMAN HUNT. 

TITIAN. 

MILLAIS. 

CARLO DOLCI. 

GAINSBOROUGH. 

TINTORETTO. 

LUINI. 

FRANZ HALS. 

VAN DYCK. 

LEONARDO DA VINCI. 

RUBENS. 

WHISTLER. 

HOLBEIN. 

BURNE-JONES. 

VIGEE LE BRUN. 

CHARDIN. 

FRAGONARD. 

MEMLINC. 

CONSTABLE. 

RAEBURN. 

JOHN S. SARGENT. 

LAWRENCE. 

DURER. 

MILLET. 

WATTE AU. 

HOGARTH. 

MURILLO. 

WATTS. 

INGRES. 



Author. 
S. L. Bensusan. 
S. L. Bensusan. 
C. Lewis Hind. 
C. Lewis Hind. 
Ai.vs Eyke Mac klin - . 
Husky B. Binns. 

LUCIEN PlSSAKRO, 

George Hay. 

James Mason. 

Josef Israels. 

A. Lvs Baldry. 

Paul G. Konody. 

Mary E. Coleridcs. 

S L. Bensusan. 

A. Lvs Baldry. 

George Hav. 

Max Rothschild. 

S. L. Bensusan. 

James Mason. 

Edgcumbe Stalev. 

Percy M. Turner. 

M. W. Brockwell. 

S. L. Bensusan. 

T. Martin Wood. 

S. L. Bensusan. 

A. Lys Baldry. 

C. Haldanb MacFall. 

Paul G. Konody. 

C. Haldanb MacFall. 

W. H. J. & J. C. Wealb. 

C. Lewis Hind. 

James L. Caw. 

T. Martin Wood. 

S. L. Bensusan. 

H. E. A. Furst. 

Percy If. Turner. 

C Lewis Hind. 

C. Lewis Hind. 

S. L. Bensusan. 

W. Loftus Hare. 

A. J. FlNBERG. 



Others in Preparation. 



"-** » 



PLATE I.— THE DUCHESS OF URBINO. Frontispiece 
(In the Uffizi Gallery, Florence) 

This portrait of the Duchess of Urbino from the Uffizi must not 
be confused with the portrait of the Duchess in the Pitti Palace. The 
sitter here is Eleonora Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino, and the portrait 
was painted somewhere between the years 1536 and 1538 at a period 
when the master's art had ripened almost to the point of its highest 
achievement. 



TITIAN 

BY S. L. BENSUSAN ® ® ® 
ILLUSTRATED WITH EIGHT 
REPRODUCTIONS IN COLOUR 




LONDON: T. C. & E. C. JACK 
NEW YORK: FREDERICK A. STOKES CO. 



IT. *". z?. 



C36 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Plate 

I. The DucheSS Of Urbino . . Frontispiece 

In the Uffizi Gallery, Florence 

Page 

II. La Bella 14 

In the Pitti Palace, Florence 

III. The Entombment 24 

In the Louvre 

IV. The Holy Family 34 

In the Uffizi Gallery, Florence 

V. The Marriage of St. Catherine . . 40 

In the Pitti Palace, Florence 

VI. Flora 50 

In the Uffizi Gallery, Florence 

VII. Sacred and Profane Love. ... 60 

In the Borghese Palace, Rome 

VIII. The Holy Family 70 

In the National Gallery, London 




I 



TITIAN VECELLI, undeniably the 
greatest Venetian painter of the Re- 
naissance, leaps into the full light of the 
movement. To be sure he appears full- 
grown, as Venus is said to have done when 
she appeared above the foam in the waters 

of Cythera, or Pallas Athene when she 

ii 



12 TITIAN 

sprang from the brain of Zeus, but happily 
he was destined to live to a great age. 

We have few and scanty records to tell 
of the very early days. So wide was his 
circle of patrons in after life, so intimate 
his acquaintance with the leading men of 
his generation, that it is not difficult to 
find out what manner of man he was 
without the aid of his pictures, even though 
they have a very definite story to tell the 
painstaking student. 

There are well over one hundred impor- 
tant works, dealing with the life and art of 
Titian, written by enthusiasts in half-a-dozen 
languages, for of all the artists of the Re- 
naissance he makes perhaps the most direct 
appeal to the man rnoyen sensueL 

Fearless and unashamed, he gave the 
world pagan pictures, entering into the joy 
of their creation with the enthusiasm of a 
schoolboy who has found an orchard gate 



PLATE II.— LA BELLA 

(In the Pitti Palace, Florence) 

This wonderful example of Titian's portrait painting may be seen 
in the Pitti Palace to-day, and was probably commissioned by the 
Duke of Urbino somewhere about the year 1536. It will be noticed 
by students of Titian that the model for this portrait appears in some 
of the master's pictures as Venus. 



TITIAN 15 

unlocked. To be sure the spirit of joy and 
of youth passed with the years, even this 
most fortunate of painters knew trouble, 
domestic and financial, but the beauty re- 
mained, expressing the fullest vigour of 
the Renaissance movement, the supreme 
achievement of human loveliness, the splen- 
dour of men and women. 

Fortune was kind to Titian in many 
ways, and not in the least degree by driving 
to the sheltering fold of the Venetian Re- 
public the great men of all lands who were 
hurrying to safety before the destroying 
advance of Spain. It is right, at the same 
time, to remember that the leaders of the 
destroying legions were the friends and 
patrons of the painter, that the greatest of 
them all desired to be buried in the shadow 
of the master's picture " La Gloria," now in 
the Prado. The time called for a supremely 
gifted artist to render its great men im- 



16 TITIAN 

mortal, or at least to give them what we call 
immortality in the days when we forget that 
if modern science be correct man has ex- 
isted for some 250,000 years and has not yet 
reached mental adolescence. Perhaps when 
he has developed his brain, and can control 
the march of this planet and the duration 
of his own life, he will not make half so 
attractive a subject for the painters as did 
those men and women of the fifteenth and 
sixteenth century whose beauty casts a spell 
over us to-day. 

Titian was born at Pieve among the 
mountains of Cadore where the Tyrol and 
Italy meet. His statue in bronze looks out 
towards Venice to-day from the market- 
place of his native town, and the landscape 
that the painter knew best, and gave time 
out of mind to his pictures, has altered but 
little. He was a second son, and would seem 
to have been born about the year 1480, but 



TITIAN 17 

there was no registrar of births, marriages, 
and deaths in Pieve and, while some autho- 
rities place the date at 1477, the year that 
he himself favoured, others advance it as 
far as 1482. There has been a great contro- 
versy about this birth date, but it might be 
safe to place it rather later still. 

Titian was the son of one Gregorio 
Vecelli, who seems to have been a soldier 
and a man who held high position in the 
little town which, in the early days of the 
fifteenth century, had cast in its lot with 
the Venetian Republic. Nothing is known 
of his mother except her name, but his 
elder brother named Francesco followed art 
until he was middle aged, and there were 
two sisters Ursula and Katherine, of whom 
the former kept house for the painter for 
many years in Venice, after the death of 
his wife. 

Francesco and Titian Vecelli developed 

B 



18 TITIAN 

at an early age a marked feeling for paint- 
ing, and in order that they might have every 
chance of developing their gifts to the best 
advantage, Gregorio Vecelli took them to 
Venice, which lay some seventy miles from 
Pieve, and left them with a brother who 
had sufficient influence to secure for Titian 
admission to the studios of the brothers 
Bellini, who then shared with the Vivarini 
family the highest position in the art world 
of the Republic. Gian Bellini, then a man 
past middle age, had in his studio several 
pupils who were destined to achieve distinc- 
tion. Palma Vecchio, Sebastian del Piombo, 
and Giorgione of Castelfranco were among 
them, and of these the last named was 
certainly the greatest. It is probable that, 
had he lived, even Titian Vecelli must have 
toiled after him in vain, for he influenced 
his fellow-student to an extent that is very 
clearly revealed in the early pictures, and 



TITIAN 19 

has even led to confusion between the work 
of the two men, a confusion greatly in- 
creased by the fact that Titian completed 
some of the pictures that Giorgione left 
unfinished. Happily perhaps for Titian, 
though unfortunately for the world at large, 
Giorgione was destined to fall a victim to 
one of the plagues that ravaged Venice 
from time to time, and he died soon 
after completing his thirtieth year, leav- 
ing Titian undisputed master of Venetian 
painting. 

Like all great men Titian was an assimi- 
lator. In his early days he started out 
under the influence of Bellini. Then he 
surrendered, as even his aged master did, 
to the strange, rare, and beautiful spirit of 
poetry and romance that Giorgione brought 
into art. He may have helped to develop 
and strengthen it, for he and Giorgione 
worked and lived together. Finally when 



20 TITIAN 

outside influences had died down Titian 
found himself, and this was the greatest 
discovery of his life. 

In the last years of Giorgione's short 
career he and Titian, both young men, were 
engaged to decorate the great Commercial 
House of the Germans, rebuilt upon the site 
of the older building that had been destroyed 
by fire about the beginning of the year 1505. 
The work would appear to have been started 
two years later. This united effort, purely 
decorative, must have been worthy of its 
surroundings at a time when Venice and 
beauty were almost synonymous terms ; the 
greater part is lost to us to-day. 

Serious troubles were upon the Republic. 
The League of Cambrai, one of the least 
scrupulous political arrangements in Euro- 
pean history, had resulted in an attack upon 
the Venetian domains that had been entirely 
successful, though statecraft was destined to 



TITIAN 21 

recover from the Philistines of Europe a part 
at least of what they had taken, and find- 
ing that the Republic was too beset to 
give much thought to art or artists Titian 
left Venice for Padua. This must have been 
very shortly after the completion of his work 
with Giorgione. His hand is to be seen in 
the very pleasant and learned city of Padua 
among the frescoes in the Scuola del Santo, 
and he may have been within its walls when 
the plague, on one of its periodical visits to 
Venice, added his friend and fellow-worker 
Giorgione to a heavy list of victims. 

On Titian's return to the headquarters 
of the Republic only Palma Vecchio was left 
among the great men of his own age, and 
it would seem that Titian's rising fame had 
already spread beyond the borders of Venice, 
because in 1513, when he petitioned the 
Council of Ten for a broker's patent to work 
in the Hall of the German Merchants, he 



22 TITIAN 

stated that he had been invited by the Pope 
(Leo X.) to come to Rome, and that he 
wished to leave a memorial in Venice. It 
is clear from the correspondence that he 
had an eye upon a post held by the aged 
Gian Bellini. This was the office of painter 
in the Hall of the Great Council, a coveted 
position for which Carpaccio, one of Bellini's 
less distinguished pupils, is said to have 
been among the claimants. Although Titian 
was a remarkable and rising man the 
Council hesitated to grant his request, partly 
because times were bad with the State and 
money was scarce. He was compelled to 
wait, and it would appear that his application 
was opposed both by the friends of Bellini 
and the supporters of Bellini's older pupils ; 
but as soon as Bellini died, towards the close 
of 1516, Titian came to his desire and under- 
took to paint the great battle of Cadore in 
the Hall of the Great Council. Having 



PLATE III.— THE ENTOMBMENT 
(In the Louvre) 

This world-famous canvas hangs in the Salon Carre of the Louvre. 
It is considered to be one of the masterpieces among the religious 
subjects painted by the great Venetian artist. 



TITIAN 25 

secured his patent, work increased, his brush 
was in request in many quarters, and he 
did as so many other painters in the State 
employment of Venice had done — he left his 
official work for such spare time as more 
remunerative employment left him — to the 
great scandal of the Councillors whose angry 
protests are on record. His early portraits 
seem to have been of men; the women, in 
whose treatment he was perhaps less happy, 
sought him in later life, and his other early 
commissions were very largely for altar- 
pieces. Titian had powerful friends and 
patrons at an early age, for we see that he 
had been recommended to the Pope by 
Cardinal Bembo before he returned to Venice 
from Padua, and his pictures attracted the at- 
tention of that splendid patron of art Alfonso 
of Ferrara. This great connoisseur sent for 
and entertained him at his castle, and even 
offered to take him to Rome when Leo X. 



26 TITIAN 

died, and his successor, after the fashion of 
Popes, would be likely to give some liberal 
commissions to the greatest artists of his 
time. In return for these kindnesses, and 
in consideration of a splendid fee, Titian 
painted the great picture of Alfonso of 
Ferrara of which a copy is to be seen in 
Florence. The original went to Madrid 
and has been lost. For the same gener- 
ous master he painted his "Bacchus and 
Ariadne," his "Venus with the Shell," and 
a Bacchanal, and it is generally agreed that 
he painted a part at least of the picture 
called "The Bacchanal," now in the posses- 
sion of the Duke of Northumberland. 

Several of the works painted in Ferrara 
were taken in later days to Madrid, and it 
might be said in this place that it is almost 
as necessary to go to the Prado to see the 
Titians as it is to see the great works of 
Velazquez. "The Bacchanal" is there, and 



TITIAN 27 

the "Worship of Venus" is there, and we 
find many others of the first importance, 
some two dozen, perhaps, whose authority 
is beyond dispute. This collection in the 
Prado is the more valuable because it re- 
presents Titian not only in the early days, 
but when he was at the zenith of his powers. 
The pictures range in date over a period of 
nearly seventy years, from the " Madonna 
with St. Bridget and St. Ulphus " (circa 
1505) down to the "Allegory of the Battle 
of Lepanto," which was sent to Spain in 
I57S a commission from Philip II. whose 
love for allegorical pictures is well known. 
Charles V. and his son Philip II. are to be 
seen in the Prado through the medium of 
Titian's brush, and, although many of the 
works have suffered from restoration, which 
is one of the vices associated with the great 
Spanish picture galleries, there are several 
that show few signs of an alien brush and 



28 TITIAN 

are, for pictures by Titian, in first-class 
order. 

Students of the Renaissance know that 
art was accepted by all the great rulers of 
Europe as something lying outside the 
boundaries of ambition and strife. It was 
one of the rewards of a great conqueror that 
he could have his portrait painted by the first 
painter of his day, and patriotism was kept 
outside the studio, to the great benefit of art 
and rulers alike. Venice offended Spain in 
many ways, and even offended the Church by 
laying a restraining hand upon the Holy In- 
quisition, but Popes and Spanish kings were 
proud, nevertheless, to be numbered among 
the patrons of the greatest artist of their 
time, they seemed to know that his brush 
would do more than immortalise their 
progress — that it would outlive it. The at- 
tention that Titian received from the Court 
of Ferrara did much to develop the esteem 



TITIAN 29 

in which Venice held him, and Titian was 
requested to paint his famous "Assump- 
tion " for the great Church of Santa Maria de' 
Frari. To-day no more than a copy hangs 
in the church, the picture having been long 
ago transferred to the Accademia. It is 
very properly regarded by the authorities 
as one of the first very great pictures of 
Titian's life, marking as it does the entrance 
of living interests into sacred painting. The 
bustle and movement that earlier masters 
had not ventured to present are seen here 
to the greatest advantage, and although 
there must have been many to declare that 
its conception was wicked and irreligious 
and quite outside the thought of such 
acknowledged masters as Beato Angelico 
and Gian Bellini, it is likely that such 
criticism would have very little effect 
upon Titian, because he went on paint- 
ing altar-pieces without reverting in any 



3 o TITIAN 

instance to the methods of his prede- 
cessors. 

He painted a " Madonna " for the Church of 
St Nicholas, an " Assumption " for Verona's 
Cathedral, an " Entombment of Christ," now 
in Paris, and it could have surprised nobody 
when the Doge Andrea Gritti commissioned 
the artist to decorate the Church of St. 
Nicholas in the Ducal Palace. These fres- 
coes have disappeared, but a picture by 
Titian preserves the patron for us, and 
this is something to be grateful for, be- 
cause the head is full of interest. Titian 
continued to paint ecclesiastical subjects 
until pressure from the world beyond forced 
him to turn his brush to other purposes, 
and then he came under the patronage of 
Frederic Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, son 
of that Isabella d'Este, who had commis- 
sioned Titian's old master, Gian Bellini, to 
paint a secular picture for her camerino 



TITIAN 31 

and was in the next few years to have her 
own portrait painted by Bellini's young pupil. 
In addition to an original picture he copied 
a portrait painted when she was young, and 
doubtless he was sufficiently a courtier to 
paint it in fashion that merited her approval 
and consoled her for having grown old. 

The instinct for the fine arts had de- 
scended to Isabella's son, and when Titian 
went to work in Mantua he painted pictures 
that extended his European fame, because 
as the western world was situated in those 
days Mantua had a word to say in its affairs, 
entertaining foreign potentates and receiving 
foreign ambassadors. In those days, too, 
ambassadors took note of art movements, 
knowing that in so doing they were bound 
to please their masters; the political corre- 
spondence of the times includes a very con- 
siderable amount of art gossip. It is certain 
that Titian worked in Mantua for the Duke, 



32 TITIAN 

and painted many pictures including the 
" Eleven Caesars," but unhappily the greater 
part of all his labour is lost. Perhaps some 
canvases await the discerning critic in half- 
forgotten gallery or lumber-rooms ; it is not 
likely that all have been destroyed. 

The next great Italian house with which 
Titian seems to have entered into relations 
was that of Urbino whose Duke was nephew 
of that Pope Julius II. who was known to his 
contemporaries as " the Terrible Pontiff" be- 
cause of his uncontrollable temper. He was 
the Pope who gave Michelangelo the com- 
mission to paint the ceiling in the Sistine 
Chapel. This artist was at least as bad- 
tempered as the Terrible Pontiff and the 
"I'm not a painter" with which he greeted 
the Pontiffs demand that he should paint 
when he preferred to practise sculpture has 
echoed down the ages. It is worth re- 
membering that when the work was done, 



PLATE IV.— THE HOLY FAMILY 

(In the Uffizi Gallery, Florence) 

Sometimes known as the Virgin with the Holy Child and Saints. 
Here we find Titian dealing with a religious subject with the restraint, 
dignity, and sense of beauty that proclaim him a master among 
painters. The motherly love of the Virgin, the solicitude of St. 
Joseph on the right, and the childish innocence of the two children 
are most effectively expressed and contrasted. The picture may be 
seen in the Uffizi Gallery. 









so 



TITIAN 35 

and Pope Julius came to see the result, he 
suggested that the scaffolding should be 
re-erected and the work decorated afresh 
with ultramarine and gold-leaf! Although 
Pope Julius bought the "Apollo" and the 
"Laocoon," Michelangelo was his adviser, 
but his nephew Francesco Maria della 
Rovere had sound instinct, and his connec- 
tion with Titian lasted as long as he lived. 
In the early years of this connection Titian 
painted the Duke and Duchess and the famous 
" Bella," which is reproduced in these pages 
and is reckoned, in spite of repainting, to be 
one of the most notable works from Titian's 
hand in this period of his career. Many 
portraits painted for the Court of Urbino are 
mentioned by Vasari ; we cannot find any 
traces of them to-day. As one of them was 
of the Turkish Sultan, and it is not on record 
that Titian ever went to Turkey, it is reason- 
able to suppose that some at least of these 



36 TITIAN 

pictures were copies of portraits that other 
men had painted. It was the custom for 
foreign potentates to have their portrait 
painted by the best man in their own capital 
and then to send the portrait to be copied by 
some artist of world-wide repute. 

In the Uffizi Gallery in Florence there 
are portraits of the Duke of Urbino (which 
are signed) and his Duchess; they were 
kept at Urbino until the early part of the 
seventeenth century, and were then brought 
to their present resting-place. The picture 
of the Duke is a very striking one. He had 
made a great reputation in fighting against 
the Turks, and the emblems of his high 
office are seen in the picture. The Duchess 
is painted in repose ; like so many of Titian's 
portraits of women this one has a rather 
listless expression. When the Duke died 
his son Guidobaldo continued relations with 
the painter, who painted the Duchess Julia 



TITIAN 37 

just before her death. It seems likely that 
she never saw the picture, which is now in 
the Pitti at Florence. The portrait of the 
husband is lost. 

II ' 

MIDDLE AGE 

This brief and rather hurried review of 
Titian's life and work has brought us to his 
middle age and we find him now almost at 
the zenith of his fame, though his powers 
have not yet reached their ripest and fullest 
expression. Venice, Mantua, and Urbino 
have acknowledged his talent, while if Pope 
and Sultan have not actually sat to him for 
their portraits they have sent him other 
men's work to copy. The great Charles V., 
who seemed bent upon holding all western 
and central Europe in the hollow of his hand, 
was his friend and patron, and we see what 



38 TITIAN 

manner of man he was from the pictures in 
the Prado. The first, painted in the very 
early years of their acquaintance, shows 
Charles with a great hound by his side. His 
right hand rests on his dagger, his left on 
the dog's collar, he wears the chain of the 
Golden Fleece, and seems a man born to 
command. Belonging, of course, to a much 
later date is the other portrait of Charles at 
the Battle of Muhlburg, perhaps even less a 
monument of Titian's skill than an enduring 
record of the terrible craze for repainting 
that beset Spain until recent years, and is 
not unknown to-day, though public opinion 
has had some effect even in Madrid. It is 
not generally known that there is a Spanish 
official who has a salaried engagement to 
assist the old masters whose work shows 
signs of fading, and without wishing to be 
hypercritical it is reasonable to remark that 
these officials in a laudable anxiety to earn 



PLATE V.— THE MARRIAGE OF ST. CATHERINE 

(In the Pitti Palace, Florence) 

This fine work is in the Pitti Palace, and is a triumph of harmony 
in colour and lines. The drawing of the arms of the Infant Christ is 
the one point that may be said to justify hostile criticism in a work 
of extraordinary beauty. A somewhat similar picture is in the 
National Gallery. 



TITIAN 41 

their stipend have done irreparable damage 
to much work that they were not fit to 
approach. 

In spite of the imminence of the political 
scheme that occupied the mind of Charles 
V. he was able to spare time to consider the 
affairs of art, and his attitude towards Titian 
seems to have been that of one friend towards 
another rather than that of an emperor to- 
wards a foreign painter. It is interesting 
in this connection to remember that his son 
Philip II., who succeeded to the throne of 
Spain, was a patron of the arts, that Philip 
III. was not indifferent to them, that 
Philip IV. was the friend as well as the 
patron of Velazquez, and that Velazquez 
admired Titian above all the other Venetians, 
and is said to have copied many of his 
pictures. 

Charles proceeded to put the crown upon 
Titian's reputation by sending him in 1533 a 



42 TITIAN 

patent of nobility, and making him a Knight 
of the Order of the Golden Spur. Among 
the stories that receive a sort of sanction 
from age is one to the effect that Charles V. 
once picked up a brush that Titian had 
dropped, and said to his astonished courtiers 
that such a man was worthy of having 
an emperor to serve him. Stories of this 
kind seem to flourish in Spain. Students 
of the life of Velazquez will not forget the 
legend that Philip IV. painted the cross of 
St. Iago upon the painter's cloak when he 
saw the famous picture "Las Meninas," in 
order to give the most fitting expression 
of his admiration. This story contrasts 
strangely with the true facts of the case. 
Charles went even further than to give the 
patent of nobility to Titian, he made a de- 
termined effort to persuade him to live in 
Madrid altogether. Very wisely Titian re- 
fused the offers ; he was a Venetian at heart, 



TITIAN 43 

and a free man. To be a citizen of Venice 
was an honour for which even a Charles V. 
could hardly find an effective substitute. 

There is no reason to believe that Titian 
would have fared any better in the wind- 
swept, heat-stricken capital of Spain than 
Velazquez fared in the years that brought 
Philip IV. to the throne. At the splendid 
court of Charles V. Titian would soon have 
become a mere official painter, he would 
have been compelled to paint to order and 
endure the snubs and buffets of the blue- 
blooded, but uncultivated courtiers attached 
to the royal establishment. Moreover, the 
Venetians did not like Spanish methods of 
dealing with matters of art and faith ; to 
Titian their attitude would have appeared 
intolerable. 

Although he was a painter, Titian had 
little of the temperament that is generally 
associated with artists. His genius was 



44 TITIAN 

allied to sound commercial instincts, and he 
chose for intimates and advisers men whose 
practical experience of the world and of 
affairs was at least as great as his own, in 
some cases even greater. Of these Pietro 
Aretino, father of modern journalists, was 
one of the most sagacious and quite the 
most remarkable. His voluminous letters 
tell us a great deal about Titian to whom 
he played the part of mentor, and they re- 
veal the writer as a man of great shrewdness 
who moved in the highest circles in many 
cities, living largely by his wits, and wielding 
a pen that was often sharper than a sword 
and was certainly more feared. He found 
Titian as valuable to him as he was useful 
to Titian, and, when any delicate negotia- 
tions were to the fore Aretino's large circle 
of friends and patrons, his ready tongue and 
fluent pen were at the service of the painter. 
His portrait painted by Titian was till 



TITIAN 45 

recently in Rome and reveals a man with 
massive head, sagacious expression, and a 
curious likeness to Dr. Hans Richter the 
famous musician. His letters are still read 
with interest by those who like to look 
back over the course of life in the sixteenth 
century. 

At a time when he had passed middle 
age, Titian would seem to have exhausted 
for the moment the possibilities of Venice. 
We have seen that the Fathers of the City 
had been a little vexed with his delay in 
painting the " Battle of Cadore " in the Hall 
of the Grand Council. He had received a 
State allowance in order to enable him to 
paint it, and twenty years had not sufficed 
him for the completion of the commission. 
When he was threatened with the loss of 
his money and dignities by the indignant 
Councillors, whose patience at the end of two 
decades was quite stale, he did set to work, 



46 TITIAN 

and satisfied them that the picture was worth 
the waiting. But they could hardly have 
been inclined to extend much more patron- 
age to a man who allowed the rulers of 
other States to turn his attention from 
commissioned work, and never hesitated to 
leave it for years at a time when other and 
more remunerative orders came to hand. 
Moreover the great churches were fairly 
well filled, and the smaller ones could hardly 
afford to employ the greatest master of the 
day. So Pietro Aretino, perhaps casting 
about to do his friend a good turn, be- 
thought him of his influence in Rome, and 
addressed certain letters to the leading 
lights of Mother Church who were to be 
found there. These letters were doubtless 
supervised by Titian himself, because they 
bear a striking likeness in phraseology to 
the petition the painter had addressed to 
the Council of Ten in the days when he 



TITIAN 47 

was little known, and Gian Bellini was still 
working for the State. Then, it will be re- 
membered, the painter declared that he had 
been asked to go to Rome but preferred 
to stay in Venice ; now Aretino told the 
Romans that Titian had been invited to go 
to Madrid but preferred to work in Rome. 
So it happened early in the 'forties that, 
through the useful Aretino, Titian entered 
into relations with the Farnese family, who 
were represented in the Papal Chair by 
Pope Paul III. The result was that Titian 
was invited to Ferrara, where he met the 
Pope and painted his portrait. 

The whole correspondence, so far as it 
can be seen, would seem to suggest that 
Titian and Aretino managed this business 
exceedingly well. When the painter found 
that his ambition was within measurable 
distance of being gratified, and that his 
graceless elder son for whom he had entered 



48 TITIAN 

a special plea, was to receive a benefice, he 
seems to have remembered that Venice held 
many attractions for him, and that he could 
not leave it in a hurry. Not until the close 
of 1545 did he visit the Eternal City, only 
to regret that the greater part of his life 
had been passed outside its walls. 

As soon as he was established in Rome, 
Titian found himself received by princes and 
prelates in fashion befitting his age and re- 
putation. And Giorgio Vasari, the author 
of the great work on Italian artists, was 
commissioned, by one of the heads of the 
house of Farnese, to show the painter the 
wonders of the city. 

To the Farnese family Titian's visit was 
of the first importance because its Pope 
and Cardinal were his first patrons, and he 
painted many pictures for them. Paul III. 
was no more than ten years older than the 
painter and had not long to live. He sat 



PLATE VI.— FLORA 

(In the Uffizi Gallery, Florence) 

The famous Flora of Titian's reproduced here is in the Uffizi 
Gallery and was painted somewhere about 1515. In the seventeenth 
century it was engraved by one of the greatest engravers of the day, 
Sandrart. The picture was publicly exhibited in Florence towards 
the stormy close of the eighteenth century, and although people in 
those years had small leisure to concern themselves about works of 
art, it created a great sensation. 



D 



TITIAN 51 

to Titian several times ; two of the portraits 
are to be seen in Naples and there are 
others to be seen elsewhere. In addition 
to the fine memorials of the Farnese Pope, 
Naples holds several of Titian's master- 
pieces, including the splendid "Danae," a 
"Philip II.," and a "Mary Magdalen." 
Those who are fortunate enough to obtain 
access to the really remarkable collection 
of pictures at Naples will not forget readily 
the striking portraits of the old Pope. 

Titian stayed less than a year in the 
Eternal City in spite of the preparations he 
had made before undertaking the journey, 
and then returned to Venice with many 
honours, but without the long desired post 
for his son. Perhaps his departure gave 
offence to people in high places, perhaps 
his stay there had not been altogether as 
satisfactory as he had expected it to be, for 
despite flattering offers, despite the honour 



52 TITIAN 

of Roman citizenship conferred upon him 
before he went home, he refused to return. 
He might have gone in the end in con- 
sideration of the preferment granted to 
Pomponio Vecelli his scapegrace son, but 
Charles V. sent for him, and he went instead 
to Augsburg, where the Emperor who had 
seen the fulfilment of so many of his hopes 
was living in great state, surrounded by as 
brilliant a court as the sixteenth century 
knew. In Augsburg Titian painted his 
most famous portrait of Charles V., the 
one showing the Emperor on horseback, 
which as has been stated, is to be seen 
to-day in the Prado in Madrid. 

Titian remained in Augsburg for the 
greater part of a year before he returned 
to Venice, to find his studio, or work-shop 
as it would have been called in those days 
besieged by the envoys of the various Euro- 
pean rulers who were all clamouring for 



TITIAN 53 

portraits. From Venice the painter went 
to Milan at the invitation of Prince Philip 
of Spain (afterwards Philip II.) and at the 
close of 1550 he was back in Augsburg where 
he painted several portraits of Prince Philip 
of which perhaps the best is in the Prado. 
By the time he returned to Venice he would 
have been in the immediate neighbourhood 
of his eightieth year. His brush was never 
idle, and if the fruit of his labours could have 
been preserved in fire-proof galleries the gain 
to the world would have been enormous. 
Unfortunately we have to face the unpleasant 
truth that considerably more than half his 
life work has been lost. 



Ill 

THE LAST DECADES 

Titian's last work for Charles V. was the 
famous "Gloria." This was painted at a 



54 TITIAN 

time when Charles had decided to end his 
days in the shadow of the Church, and is to 
be seen to-day in the Prado, a composition 
of amazing strength and wonderful inspira- 
tion. The Father and the Son are seen en- 
throned, with the Virgin Mary at the feet of 
Christ, and the Patriarchs grouped in the 
background. Charles himself in his shroud 
is pleading for forgiveness, an angel by his 
side encourages him and supports his appeal. 
The lighting of the picture is masterly, and 
so impressed the Emperor that he took it 
with him into retirement, and directed that 
it should be placed above his tomb. 

Philip II. has no enviable reputation in 
this country, but his position as patron of the 
arts stands far above criticism. Though he 
was a sober ascetic upon whom the autho- 
rity of the Church weighed very heavily, 
he did not ask Titian to devote himself 
entirely to religious pictures. In matters 



TITIAN 55 

of art he saw his way to making a con- 
siderable concession to the spirit of the 
Renaissance, and when he took over the 
burden of empire he commissioned several 
mythological subjects from the old painter. 
Among them were the " Venus and Adonis " 
now in the Prado, the "Diana surprised by 
Actaeon" in Bridge-water House, and the 
"Jupiter and Antiope" in the Louvre. The 
allegorical pictures, the latest work of the 
painter's life, were commissioned later. 

Strangely enough the years had done 
little or nothing to dim the lustre of the 
painter's work, his colour was still supremely 
beautiful, his feeling for landscape more in- 
tense than it had ever been, while his 
capacity for striking and novel composition 
remained a thing to wonder at. Of course 
Philip was not content with secular subjects, 
and Titian was required to paint a certain 
number of pictures for the Escorial, but he 



56 TITIAN 

is best represented by his mythological 
subjects. Perhaps they made a more direct 
appeal to him because by their side the 
religious pictures were a little old-fashioned, 
and he does not seem to have faced alle- 
gorical subjects with enthusiasm. 

It is interesting to turn to Vasari and 
read some of the things he has to say 
about the painter at this period of his life, 
for although the old chronicler is not the 
most accurate of writers, he is at least a 
very interesting one and he knew Titian 
intimately. He says of the famous "Gloria" 
picture to which reference has been made — 
"The composition of this work was in 
accordance with the orders of his Majesty, 
who was then giving evidence of his inten- 
tion to retire, as he afterwards did, from 
mundane affairs, to the end that he might 
die in the manner of a true Christian, fear- 
ing God and labouring for his own salvation." 



TITIAN 57 

It is not difficult to imagine the emotion 
that this picture must have roused among 
those who were privileged to see it, when 
it came fresh from the painter's studio, to 
impress an age that had not forgotten to 
be devout. 

Again Vasari says, "In the year 1566 
when I, the writer of the present history, was 
in Venice, I went to visit Titian as one who 
was his friend, and found him, although then 
very old, still with the pencils in his hand 
painting busily." The old gossip goes on to 
say that Paris Bordone, who "had studied 
grammar and become an excellent musi- 
cian," had set himself to imitate Titian, 
who did not love him on that account, and 
had sought to keep him from getting com- 
missions. Bordone persevered and went to 
Augsburg, where he painted pictures, now 
lost, for some of the great German merchants. 
This little glimpse of rivalry suggests to us 



58 TITIAN 

that Titian was jealous of his reputation, 
although Vasari tells us elsewhere that he 
was kind and considerate to his contem- 
poraries, and free from uneasiness, because 
he had gained a fair amount of wealth, 
his labours having always been well paid. 
Vasari hints, too, that he kept his brush in 
hand too long; he must have written this 
when he remembered that, for all his many 
excellences, Titian was a Venetian. " Titian 
has always been healthy and happy," he 
writes ; " he has been favoured beyond the 
lot of most men, and has received from 
Heaven only favours and blessings. In his 
house he has always been visited by what- 
ever princes, literati, or men of distinction 
have gone to Venice, for in addition to his 
excellence in art he has always distin- 
guished himself by courtesy, goodness, and 
rectitude." Perhaps his remark that Titian's 
reputation would have stood higher if he 



PLATE VII.-SACRED AND PROFANE LOVE 

(In the Borghese Palace, Rome) 

This most beautiful work of Titian's is one belonging to his early 
days. It was probably commissioned in 1512 by the Chancellor of 
Venice, and we find that it was in the possession of Cardinal Scipione 
Borghese at the beginning of the seventeenth century. It may be 
seen to-day in the Borghese Palace of Rome. 



TITIAN 61 

had finished work earlier may be no 
more than a veiled comment upon the 
indiscriminate misuse of the labours of 
pupils. 

In the latter years of his sojourn in 
Venice the artist lived in a house towards 
Murano, between the Church of San Gio- 
vanni de Paolo and the Church of the Jesuits. 
He entertained very largely, giving supper 
parties from which no seasonable delicacy 
was lacking, and gathering round him dis- 
tinguished men and women who were far less 
celebrated for their morals than for their at- 
tractions. His gossip Aretino was generally 
of the party, and it is to him that we owe 
so much of our intimate knowledge of the 
painter's home life and troubles. Aretino's 
death in 1556 must have been a great blow 
to Titian. 

Vasari tells us that the painter's income 
was considerable. Charles V. paid a thou- 



62 TITIAN 

sand gold crowns for every portrait of him- 
self and, when he conferred the patent of 
nobility upon the painter, he accompanied it 
with an annual gift of two hundred crowns. 
Philip II., son of the great Emperor, added 
another two hundred annually, the German 
merchants gave him three hundred, so that 
he had seven hundred crowns a year with- 
out taking into account the commissions 
that came to him on every side, and, as he 
was painting for the richest and most 
generous people of his generation, his an- 
nual income must have been very consider- 
able. And yet Titian's own correspond- 
ence, of which a part has been preserved, 
shows that the State grants were not 
always paid regularly. It is of course far 
more easy for an arbitrary ruler to make 
gifts to his favourites than it is for the 
State Treasury to respond to the demands 
that must needs follow each grant, and 



TITIAN 63 

Spanish finances have always been difficult 
to administer. 

As he grew older and his hand lost part 
at least of its cunning, Titian depended more 
and more upon pupils, but in this he was 
only following the custom of his time. It is 
said that a clever German artist, who worked 
in his studio, was responsible for the greater 
part of several of the later pictures. The 
Council of Ten though they had taken from 
him the office of Painter of Doges and had 
given it to Tintoretto, offered him a com- 
mission in the late 'sixties ; even if they had 
a grievance against him they could not afford 
to nourish it. Then again if Titian was not 
always prompt in doing the work for which 
he was paid, even if he employed pupils to a 
greater extent than seemed necessary to 
those who had to pay for the finished canvas, 
it must have been hard to quarrel with him, 
for his personality would seem to have been 



64 TITIAN 

most engaging. He was an excellent musician 
as well as a good host, Paolo Veronese has 
included him in the famous "Marriage in 
Cana" (Louvre) playing a double bass. 
Moreover Titian was a courtier whose 
correspondence, although it dealt so largely 
with matter of finance, lacks none of the 
stilted graces of the time, and these may 
have helped to conciliate angry patrons. He 
seems to have been an affectionate father, 
and if he had any besetting sin it was love 
of money, his anxiety in this respect being 
increased by the fact that he was not always 
able to collect the accounts due to him. 
Yet he saved enough to buy land round his 
birthplace and it is reported that he went 
to Cadore whenever he had the opportunity. 
Clearly an appreciative sense of the perennial 
peace of the Dolomites never left him. 

By his wife, to whom he was not married 
until two sons had been born, Titian had 



TITIAN 65 

four children of whom two grew up. Pom- 
ponio, to whom we have referred, was the 
eldest; and he came to a bad end, being 
a dissipated man. Orazio, who was the 
second son, became a painter. One daughter 
died young, and there was another, Lavinia, 
portraits of whom may be seen at Dresden 
and Berlin. His great friends were Pietro 
Aretino, poet and gossip, who laid half 
Europe under contribution, and was almost 
as unscrupulous as he was clever, and the 
sculptor Sansovino. 

Whatever Titian's faults were as a man, 
they may fairly be forgotten in his merits 
as an artist, and it is not the least of 
these merits that he worked from the time 
when he was a boy to the hour when his 
brush seemed falling from his hands, un- 
sparing in his devotion to his task. He 
has left a legacy to the civilised world that 
compels a measure of admiration equal to 

E 



66 TITIAN 

that which is paid to Velazquez. Titian 
was the supreme master of colour, but, un- 
fortunately, few of his pictures have escaped 
the restorer's hand, and a great many have 
been damaged in their journeys from city 
to city in an age when the art of picture 
packing was still unknown. Exposure to all 
sorts of weather, long periods of neglect, 
careless restoration, and reckless repainting 
would have been enough to destroy the re- 
putation of most painters, but Titian's work 
has not suffered to the extent that might 
have been expected. Enough remains of the 
master to make us not a little envious of 
the happy patrons of the arts who knew 
his work in all its glory. 

It is hard to say when Titian's life would 
have come to an end in the ordinary course 
of events, but it is not unreasonable to 
suppose that he would have lived to be a 
centenarian had he retired from Venice when 



TITIAN 67 

he was ninety and gone to live in Pieve, the 
well-beloved city that gave him birth. But 
he would not leave his workshop, and in 
1575 the plague paid another visit to Venice. 
It will be remembered that soon after the 
League of Cambrai when Titian was in 
Padua, a visitation had devastated Venice 
and carried off Giorgione among thousands 
of lesser men. The Venetians were never 
free from fear of the plague's return. In 1575 
the hand of the plague lay heavy upon the 
City of Lagoons, where sanitation was un- 
known, and isolation and disinfection were 
not practised properly. Historians tell us 
that some 40,000 people perished, the greatest 
panic prevailed, and while the plague was 
at its height Titian died. If his own in- 
sinuation of the year of his birth be correct 
he must have been in his ninety-ninth year, 
but even if we accept the date given by 
those who believe that he was born as late 



68 TITIAN 

as 1482, he would have been within seven 
years of his centenary. The epidemic is 
recorded in the famous Church of the 
Redentore on the Giudecca, dedicated to 
Christ by the Doge Mocenigo, whose por- 
trait painted by Tintoretto may be seen 
in the Accademia to-day. 

In spite of the distress prevailing in the 
city some effort was made to give the great 
painter a State funeral, but under the con- 
ditions existing, it was impossible to carry 
out the programme, and he was buried with 
comparatively little ceremony in the great 
Church of the Frari which, in addition to 
having one of the finest works of his hand, 
is further enriched by the famous altar- 
piece by his old master Gian Bellini. They 
say that his residence was entered shortly 
after his death by some of the riff-raff of 
Venice, to whom the plague had given a 
welcome measure of licence, and was de- 



PLATE VIII.— THE HOLY FAMILY 
(In the National Gallery, London) 

This superb painting is one of the gems of oin" National Gallery, 
and represents Titian at his best as a great colourist. It is painted 
in oil on canvas. 



TITIAN 71 

spoiled of many of its treasures. Doubtless 
the painter's house held much that was 
worth the small risk involved in an hour 
when the authorities were hardly able to 
cope with duties to the sick and the dis- 
posal of the dead. 

In considering the life of Titian we see 
that much good-fortune went to its mak- 
ing. He was born at the best period of the 
Renaissance, he was the inheritor of the 
freedom for which other painters had striven. 
He painted a world that was as new to 
artists as were the far-off realms to the 
Spanish adventurers who were discovering 
new countries and new trade routes, and 
paving the way for the ultimate decline of 
Venice. At the outset of his career Titian's 
work was full of the joy of life, it was the 
expression of an age that seemed to have 
come of age, of a city that had turned to 
canvas and marble rather than to books 



72 TITIAN 

for a reflection of the new life. While the 
painter progressed, overcoming the various 
difficulties of expression that confronted 
him, making daring and successful experi- 
ments in composition, handling colour as 
it had never been handled before, this feel- 
ing of enthusiasm that belonged to the age 
was expressed in all his work. Then again 
he had the great advantage of claiming for 
sitters the most distinguished men of his 
time, the statesmen and rulers who were 
making history at the expense of the map 
of Europe, the men who held spiritual or 
temporal power, and the women they de- 
lighted to honour. Naturally enough these 
conditions gave added scope to the painter's 
talent ; and his subjects were worthy of 
his brush. He could seek out what was 
best and most characteristic in his sitters, 
and express through the medium of his art 
not only the likeness but the personality 



TITIAN 73 

underlying it. Had his work been more 
fortunate, had it been preserved in any- 
thing like its entirety, we should be able 
to read the history of his times in a clearer 
light, for though the written word can tell 
us much, the cleverly wrought picture has 
still more to say, and we can rely upon 
canvas, if Titian painted it, to refute or to 
confirm the verdict of the historian. 

Happily, too, Titian's art grew with his 
age. Practice and experience ripened it, 
and some of his finest pictures were painted 
when he was past the span of life that the 
Psalmist has allotted to man. He covered 
every field, no form of painting seems to 
have come amiss to him. Altar-pieces, por- 
traits, historical pictures, mythological and 
allegorical subjects, one and all claimed his 
attention from time to time, and though we 
are all entitled to express our preference, 
there will be few to say that he failed in 



74 TITIAN 

any style of work. Perhaps he was least 
successful in allegorical subjects, and in 
the portraits of women, but, if this be so, 
his failure is merely relative, he attained 
such heights in mythological subjects and 
men's portraits, that the other work is not 
so good by comparison. If he gave us no 
picture devoted entirely to landscape it is 
worth remarking that the appeal of nature 
was an ever growing one. The impression 
given him by the mountains round Cadore 
was never lost. From the time when he 
completed Gian Bellini's last picture down 
to the time when the plague came to Venice 
and found him with an unfinished picture on 
his easel, the attraction of the countryside 
he knew so well was always with him, and 
he lost no opportunity of expressing it. 
Gian Bellini had opened the walls that shut 
in the Madonna and the Saints of the earlier 
masters, he had given the world glimpses 



TITIAN 75 

of exquisite landscape through which the 
romance woven round his figures seemed 
to spread. Titian opened the gates still 
further, giving a larger, wider, and more 
splendid view, convincing his contempo- 
raries and successors that landscape could 
never more be overlooked. 

He would seem to have made few studies, 
a sketch by Titian is one of the rarest things 
in art, he did not see in line but in colour. 
With Titian as with Velazquez after him 
it is hard to separate colour from line, and 
in colour he was the acknowledged master 
of his own time and the guide of the ages 
after him. Some of his great contempo- 
raries, not Venetians of course, declared 
that Titian was a poor draughtsman, but 
it is well to remember that among the 
Venetians, art was an affair of painting, 
among the Florentines it embraced sculp- 
ture and architecture ; the mere handling 



76 TITIAN 

of paint, however splendid the results, would 
not suffice Florentine ambitions. It might 
even be said that much Florentine painting 
is little more than tinted drawing. We 
go to Titian for colour even to-day, when 
time and exposure and repainting have 
taken so much from the wealth that he 
gave to his pictures, and we can see that 
as he grew to ripe age he sought to obtain 
his colour effects by less obvious means than 
those that served him at the outset. It is 
hard for any but an artist to realise the 
secret of the cause that produced the later 
results, but, if it be left for the artist to ex- 
plain it is easy for the layman to appreciate. 
With Titian, Venetian painting reached the 
zenith of its achievement, after him through 
Tintoretto and Veronese, the descent is slow 
but sure, and we are left wondering whether 
any fresh revival of the world's enthusiasm, 
any new discovery of the world's youth is 



TITIAN 77 

destined to bring into art the spirit of en- 
thusiasm that gave a Titian to the world. 
There are few signs in our own time, but 
then we do not live in an age of great 
crises religious or political, or, if we do, 
we are too near to the changes to recog- 
nise them. 

Perhaps there are some who find amuse- 
ment in the suggestion that Titian's action 
emancipating art from the thraldom of the 
Church was a great and glorious one, not 
unattended by danger and difficulties. To 
these sceptics one can but reply by quoting 
I the decree of the Council of Nicaea dated 
a.d. 787 and never repealed. Here we find 
the attitude of Authority towards art set out 
in plainest fashion. " It is not the invention 
of the painter which creates a picture," says 
this remarkable decree, "but the inviol- 
able law and tradition of the Church. It 
is not the painter but the Holy Fathers 



78 TITIAN 

who have to invent and dictate. To them 
manifestly belongs the composition, to the 
painter only the execution." 

A few great artists in later times had 
made their protest, definite or indefinite, 
against the attitude of the Church, but 
Titian rescued art as Perseus rescued 
Andromeda. 



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